The Washington Times - October 5, 2010, 12:44PM

Doug Hoffman, the upstate New York longshot whose 2009 congressional bid was an early indicator of the tea party’s political relevance, announced today he is stepping aside in the 23rd Congressional District race.

Hoffman, who narrowly lost the GOP primary last month to Matt Doheny, had vowed to make the contest a three-way race by running as the Conservative Party candidate.

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Hoffman will still be on the Nov. 2 ballots as the Conservative Party candidate, but the conservative Saranac Lake accountant said today he is asking his supporters to back Doheny, a Watertown businessman.

From Hoffman’s statement today:

“It was never my intention to split the Republican vote in the 23rd District. So today, I withdraw as a candidate from this race. Matt Doheny and I may have differed on some issues during the course of our primary race. Now, we must put those differences aside and do what is best for our nation. So today, I am asking all my supporters to cast their vote for Matt Doheny on Election Day, November 2nd.”

The withdrawal should strengthen the GOP’s hopes of ousting Rep. Bill Owens, the first-term Democrat who won the job last year after moderate Republican DeDe Sozzafava dropped out of the race days before the election and endorsed the Democrat.